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A Great Wall!!!

July 3rd & 4th

sunny 37 °C

P1000431.JPGTravelled from Xian to Beijing by train a very pleasant experience except for John loosing his ticket and consequently loosing his equanimity!!!

On arriving at Beijing East Station (sort of like Southern Cross on steroids) we manoeuvred to the metro which has about 20 lines cris-crossing each other, found our line and followed the stations, got off at one point and changed to a different line which was to take us to our destination. There were no elevators at this platform so John had to carry both his and my hefty luggage up several steep flights of stairs. Emerging at street level we were almost adjacent to our Hotel, (but did not realise this until the next day!!!!!!) Instead we set off on foot in the opposite direction with repeated reassurance from people we asked that we were heading in the right direction. It was very humid and we were getting desperate when we spied a very classy looking building and figured we had made it. Once again Hotel staff informed us that this was not the Hotel we were booked in at!!! We're getting good a this!! With much fussing we got a taxi to take us to our Hotel. The staff of this hotel graciously wrote out in Chinese characters the name of our Hotel so that others could understand it i.e the taxi driver. We were then taken on a long circular drive through the centre of the city to our correct Hotel.

On the following day as the weather forecast was so hot so we left at 7.30 am to drive to the Great Wall, the section we visited is in mountainous terrain so it wasn't until we were almost on it that we could see it. The section we visited was about 600 years old whilst some is over 2,000 years old. The Chinese government has been repairing and rebuilding historic structures so it was quite well maintained. You take a cable car up to the wall and there is a good section that you can walk along. The wall itself follows the contours of the land so it is very undulating, walking along it I found was similar to the sensation of trying to walk on a pitching ship. It was very impressive and while it is all similar you would constantly get a fresh view and a different picture of it as you rounded yet another corner. We stood looking out toward the place where the enemy were expected to arrive from and I felt the the Chinese soldiers would feel quietly confident with the level of defence the wall afforded them. There were elements that reminded us of Hadrian's Wall which is also 2,000 years old but which has not been as well preserved.
Wearing his Kokoda t-shirt John raced off ahead to see how far he could get along the wall in the time we had and managed to cover quite a distance.
One of the options for getting down from the wall (not down the side of the wall but from the top of the wall back to the start at the base) was on a sled, felt like we were in training for the winter Olympics.
From there we travelled to the tombs of the Ming Dynasty and the Underground Palace. Much of this had been destroyed during the cultural revolution (1965-1975) , local farmers did their best to protect it at the time and it wasn't until 1990 that it was refurbished.
On our way back to the Hotel we stopped to check out the Bird Cage and the Water Cube built for the 2008 Olympics.

Posted by Seniorcitizens 23:49 Archived in China

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